Scandi design embraces minimalism. Contrary to popular belief, the minimalist movement isn’t about throwing away all of your possessions and doing without. It’s about choosing your things intentionally.
In Scandinavian homes, you’ll see well-loved items on display, but you won’t see clutter and kitsch in every corner. Aim to clear your shelves of all but your favorite knick-knacks. This will keep your home looking tidy, and it will make your favorite items stand out — giving them the special attention they deserve.
Choose mid-century furniture
There’s a lot of overlap between Scandinavian and mid-century modern furniture. Both feature clean lines and natural wood tones, and classic mid-century silhouettes double as classic Scandinavian silhouettes.
Try adding an Eames-inspired chair to your office or study. Or choose an accent chair with a simple silhouette.
Square and rectangular lines work well in Scandi-style homes. Try adding a simple rectangular dresser with elegant tapered legs in your bedroom. Gently sloping shapes are also a signature of the style, but opt for simple curved lines like a tulip-shaped dining table over traditional curved silhouettes like turned table legs.
Although simplicity is an important part of Scandinavian style, functionality is too. Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to tables that feature only a tabletop and legs. A coffee table with hidden storage can be both functional and clean.
Create a neutral backdrop
White walls and a neutral color palette are signatures of Scandi design. Start with white or off white walls, then layer in other neutrals with your larger furniture. Opt for a brown leather couch or choose a sofa with light beige upholstery if it’s practical for your lifestyle. Next, add more neutrals with light wood tones and shades of black, white, and gray.
Layering neutrals on neutrals is both beautiful and practical. The soothing color palette can create a relaxing atmosphere in your home, and when you invest in neutral furniture, you create a timeless backdrop. In the future, you’ll be able to easily redecorate by swapping out less expensive decor like linens and art without having to repaint your walls or buy a new sofa.
Add small pops of color
Yes, Scandinavian living spaces are full of neutral colors, but that doesn’t mean they’re devoid of color entirely. Add little pops of bright or light colors to make the space feel a little warmer and happier.
In Scandinavian interior design, color is often added through artwork, which is an important feature of any room. The art is often displayed gallery-style with a few similar pieces displayed side-by-side, or museum-style with a brightly colored piece of art surrounded by white walls so that the art stands out.
Woven throw rugs, pillows, or blankets are another way to add a splash of color and texture.
Incorporate natural textures
Texture is another essential of Scandinavian interior design. When you have a neutral color palette, texture is a good way to break up similar colors and create visual interest.
Scandinavian decor uses rich, natural materials inspired by the Nordic landscape. Picture a mohair or sheepskin throw on top of a linen duvet. Combining a variety of textiles adds depth to the room and makes the space feel more comfortable and inviting.
Scandinavian design will also bring nature in with wood furniture and shelving, stone or driftwood sculptures, and plenty of house plants. These elements of Scandi style have strongly influenced organic modern design — one of the hottest design movements of the past few years.
Play with light
When you’re bringing nature inside, you can’t ignore natural light. And because natural light can be in short supply in Nordic countries, Scandinavian interior design maximizes its role in the room. Organize your living space so that the natural light shines into the center of your furniture arrangement (directly onto the coffee table, couch, or bed, for example).
In rooms where you won’t be doing any sleeping, choose gossamer window treatments that let the light shine through. Then, add a warm glow with plenty of candles. If you have a fireplace, make it a focal point and place seating nearby so you can take advantage of the warmth.
When selecting lamps and light fixtures for the room, look for pieces that make a design statement. Picture paper lanterns or woven pendant lights. Because Scandi style is minimalistic, a statement light can make a big impact while still serving an important practical purpose.
Embrace a lived-in look
One of the most relatable elements of Scandinavian style and part of the reason it’s stood the test of time is that it’s approachable. Your home should feel like you live there. Forget what your mom told you when you were growing up — don’t make the bed.
Embrace crumpled throw blankets, mugs on the side table, and slippers that never seem to get put away. Make your home a reflection of your everyday life.